From Santa to Baby Jesus

My dear precious Jesus, I did not mean to take your place; I only bring toys and things, and you bring love and grace.  People give me lists of wishes and hope that they come true; but you hear prayers of the heart and promise your will to do.

Children try to be good and not to cry when I am coming to town; but you love them unconditionally, and that love will abound.  I leave only a bag of toys and temporary joy for a season; but you leave a heart of love, full of purpose and reason.

I have a lot of believers and what one might call fame; but I never healed the blind or tried to help the lame.  I have rosy cheeks and a voice full of laugher; but no nail-scarred hands or a promise of the hereafter.

You may find several of me in town or at a mall; but there is only one omnipotent you to answer a sinner’s call. And so, my precious Jesus, I kneel here to pray; to worship and adore you on this, your holy birthday.

May the comfort of God’s love fill you with hope and peace.

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Do You Pray? The Power of Prayer

What is a prayer?  Prayer does not only happen when we kneel or put our hands together and focus and expect things from God.  Thinking positive and wishing good for others is a prayer.

When you hug a friend.  That is a prayer.

When you cook something to nourish family and friends.  That is a prayer.

When we send off our near and dear ones and say “Drive safely,” or “Be safe.”  That is a prayer.

When you are helping someone in need by giving your time and energy.  You are praying.

When you forgive someone, that is prayer.

Prayer is a vibration.  A feeling.  A thought.  Prayer is the voice of love, friendship, genuine relationships.  Prayer is an expression of your silent being.  KEEP PRAYING–Always!

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“Love Came Down at Christmas” Choir Cantata to be Presented December 8

The choir of St. John’s UCC will present the cantata, “Love Came Down at Christmas”, celebrating God’s hope, peace, joy, and love and composed by Joel Raney.  The cantata is based upon the poem by Christina Rosetti and titled “Love Came Down at Christmas.”

Rosetti’s poem was first published in 1885, and the lyric has survived the ages.  In the cantata, Raney has scattered the lines of the classic poem throughout the musical sections which embody hope, peace, love, and joy.

December 8 is the choir’s final performance for 2019.  They will resume singing in February of 2020.  We thank all of the Bluffton University students for their faithful attendance at rehearsals and performances.  Their presence with us has been an inspiration.

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Vision of Peace (Isaiah 11:1-10)

At General Synod earlier this year, delegates to the gathering made resolutions to address many issues facing our nation and world, including the country’s growing opioid addiction crisis.  Delegates challenged local churches and conferences to recognize opioid addiction as a health epidemic and to partner with corporations, governments, and health care providers.

Even before the Synod resolution, Fusion United Church of Christ, an interfaith spiritual community in Piqua, Ohio, was already engaged in the fight.  After they learned that 310 people in their small town had overdosed on opioids in 2017, the faith community took a stand.  Working with the sheriff’s department, they became a host site for Project DAWN.

Project DAWN is a training program that teaches residents about addiction and the effects opioids have on breathing.  Students come away from the course not only with knowledge, but also with a nasal spray they can administer to a victim in the case of an overdose.  The spray can reverse the overdose, and help the patient live to receive addiction-recovery services.  The training is also an opportunity for fellowship, community-building and spiritual growth, as participants are also invited for a meal and a devotional time.

The path to addiction and overdose has many stops along the way.  Fusion UCC’s partnership with Project DAWN is just one way to combat addiction, but it is an important one.  Karen Tompkins Jamison, pastor of the interfaith community, says that not all the participants are drug users themselves.  The church has offered the training for teens who frequently come across parents who have overdosed.  She also notes that, “offering a meal is a way to deal with food insecurity in our area.”  One participant came just for the meal on a Thursday, ended up staying for the training and by Sunday she had used the training on a neighbor.

You can find out more about the Fusion community’s presence in their neighborhood by checking out their website:  fusionucc.org.

Second Sunday of Advent–Prayer for Peace

O come, O come Emmanuel!  There is violence and dis-ease in our hearts and in our world.  Save us, we pray, from the brutality of war, and all assaults on our inner peace.  Remind us that you bring the peace that passes all understanding.  Help us to be purveyors of your peace, here and now and always.  Amen.

 

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Called to Gift (Matthew 24:36-44) World Aids Day

December first is World AIDS Day.  In the nearly four decades since we have learned about HIV, more than 35 million people have died of the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics the world has ever known.  On World AIDS Day, we remember those who have died of the disease, we demonstrate support for those living with HIV and AIDS and we re-commit to combatting HIV and AIDS.  Perhaps most importantly of all, we pledge to end the stigma that is still attached to a diagnosis of the virus.

UCAN is the United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network, providing Faith-based leadership for ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic.  According to the UCAN website* “Much progress has been made since we first learned about HIV more than 35 years ago and we have made it through some very difficult times.  We remember with thanksgiving those we have lost to this disease and for those who grieve, we pray God’s peace and comfort.  Although medical advances have made it possible to prevent HIV from attacking the immune system, saving millions of lives, we recognize that we have not sufficiently scaled up our responses to meet the need for prevention, treatment, care and support for all those living with and affected by HIV.”

One of the difficulties in fighting this disease has been, and continues to be, discrimination and stigma.  With treatment, people can live healthy lives with AIDS.  The first step to getting treatment is to get tested and diagnosed, but for many, stigma is a major barrier to testing.  Everyone can help knock down that barrier.

Today’s scripture reminds us of all that we do not know.  Jesus tells us that in most important ways, we do not know what the future will bring.  But one thing we do know is that we can help end the stigma of getting help for this disease.  We can all be tested for HIV and AIDS, even if we do not consider ourselves at risk.  Getting tested is one way that each of us can be involved in combatting and eradicating HIV and AIDS.

First Sunday of Advent–Prayer for Hope

O come, O come Emmanuel!  We look at the world and all its brokenness, and we are too often tempted to give up.  Grant us the audacity of hope.  Save us from easy cynicism and despair.  Remind us that while none of us can do all things, all of us can do some things.  Place before us the things we can do, and give us the courage to do them.  Amen.

*UCAN Call to Action.  Accessed July 24, 2019.  https://www.ucc.org/ucan_call_to_action

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CrossRoad Children’s Wish List

CROSSROAD CHILDREN’S WISH LIST

Greetings, friends in Christ!

If you were with us in worship on Sunday, November 17, you heard Kyle Zanker from Crossroad Child and Family Services speak to us about the children being served at Crossroad and their behavioral issues and their causes. Sexual and physical abuse, self-harming, trafficking, the opioid epidemic, have all contributed to many, many children with severe problems that need tremendous emotional support. These children range in age from 6 to 18. Many are autistic, have hearing or visual issues, physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, brain trauma, or other challenges. Crossroad’s success rate for helping these children to overcome many of their difficulties is amazing!
Kyle presented us with 20 “wish lists” from the children for Christmas. It is the desire of the Board of Christian Education that we use this opportunity to help these children; they are just kids who have had a rough start to life. We can help!
Will you please consider purchasing two or three items to help make a child happy? Bring them to the church by December 15 and put them in the bins at the back of the church. They are only kids who want what other kids want at Christmas. Let’s help bring them some joy!

GIRLS

Fuzzy socks (4)
Shoes (girls’ size 5) (women’s 6)
Shirt (girls’ L, M, XL) (Women’s S, M)
Jeans (girls’ size 10/12, 12/14, 7/8, 14/16) (women’s size 4, 6, 8)
Sweatshirt (no drawstring) (girls’ size L 14/16) (women’s size S, M)
Uno
Coloring book (4)
Colored pencils (3)
MP3 player (4)
Jogger sweatpants (girls 7-8, 14/16) (women’s 4)
Portable DVD player (5)
G/PG movie (2)
Art kit (8)
Lego set (4)
Paint and canvas
Shirt (girl’s size 10/12) (women’s size S)
Adult coloring book (2)
Earbuds
Friendship bracelet kit
Pajamas (women’s S) (girls’ size M, XL)
Sketchpad (non-spiral) (3)
Woodcraft kit
Journal (no spiral bound) (2)
Phase 10
Lip gloss
Any kind of board games

BOYS

G/PG rated dvd’s (8)
DVD player (7)
Legos (4)
Pajamas (youth M, L) (Men’s M, L/XL)
Art kit (11)
Sneakers (Boys 11, 13) (Men’s 10.5, 9.5)
Books (2)
Shoes (boys 11, 13) (Men’s 10.5)
Clothing (youth M)
Nerf football (5)
Wallet (6)
MP/3 player (5)
Shirt (youth M)
Pants/jeans (boys’ 10-12) (youth M)
Sweatshirt (no drawstrings) (boys L) (adult L, M)
Soccer ball
Shirt (men’s L/XL)
Journal (no spiral bound) (3)
Model car set (3)
Color book (2)
Basketball (4)
Adult coloring book (3)
Sketch pad

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Fall Hours Begin September 8, 2019

Beginning September 8, 2019, and continuing until the first Sunday in June, 2020, Faith Formation classes will meet at 9:30 a.m., and worship starts at 10:30 a.m.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Centering Words for December 8:  Signs of Advent hope and peace abound.  Let us catch God’s vision for our world!

Sunday, December 8–Worship, 10:30 a.m.  The choir will present the cantata, “Love Came Down at Christmas” by Joel Raney.  The Second Sunday Potluck follows the worship service in Oppermann Hall.

December 10—-Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m..

December 11–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  November 26, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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